Sunday, April 6, 2008

Evidence the Pa. death penalty is punishment existing in name only

Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted of murdering a police officer 26 years ago, has had his sentenced stayed by an appellate court. The reason was due to juror confusion over comprehension of sentencing instructions.


The author laments that no evidence was presented to substantiate the claim that the original jury was confused, but the appellate court looked at the record and the forms and concluded that a substantial risk of confusion existed.

Mr. Smerconish, the author of this article, is apparently unaware (or is ignoring) the body of literature that has measured juror confusion over sentencing instructions. The results of these studies show that jurors are confused over the sentencing instructions, or choose not to follow them.

Mr. Smerconish calls for abolition of the death penalty in Pennsylvania out of frustration at the inability to carry out executions. He makes the case (perhaps unintentionally) for doing away with the death penalty by describing the experiences of the victim's widow as she has waited for the state to act.

New Jersey acted on behalf of victims, their families, and friends, and the citizens of the state by abolishing this failed policy last year. Time to end the roller coaster ride for all victims' families and friends.

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